Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Christie Administration's Weapon Of Choice

Matt Katz has written several pieces lately about the Government Records Council (GRC), and how he has been unable to get documents related to the Governor's press release recipient list.  Hardly seems like it should be highly classified information, but Katz's Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request was denied.  He appealed, and it was brought before the GRC.  

And who is one of only four members of the GRC?  None other than your friend and mine, Acting Commissioner of Education, Chris Cerf.

How has the GRC voted on appeals?  44-0.  Wanna bet whether they voted in favor of the administration or the good people of New Jersey?  Let's just say Matt Katz was one of the 44.  

So if I want to appeal the redaction of emails between Tikun Olam lead founder Sharon Akman and Acting Commissioner Cerf that I received via OPRA, I have to appeal that decision to Cerf himself.  

Well that seems fair.  

Here are the emails I received:  
Akman Emails Requesting Cerf Meeting

If you notice any response back to Sharon Akman is redacted.  Did Akman get the meeting she requested?  Did the federal grant give her application magical powers?  We'll never know.  I emailed the Acting Commissioner directly asking him to release the emails and, big surprise, I never got a response.  

Just for fun, here's the email too:  
Please Release Redacted Emails

I greatly appreciated how Katz illuminated the lack of government transparency under this administration.  But when I saw the picture attached to one of Katz's pieces, I have to admit, I became more than a bit distracted.  

I immediately flashed on Christopher Walken in the Fat Boy Slim video for the song "Weapon of Choice" and imagined that, like Walken, Christie started dancing with abandon right after this shot was taken.  

Here's the video.  Watch it, and you'll understand why I became so distracted.  

As I watched the video, it hit me.  At every turn, the Christie Administration undercuts the people of New Jersey (Matt Katz demonstrated that perfectly) as well as the New Jersey Legislature.  Here's a couple examples of how this administration is attempting to cut the legislature off at the knees. 

Department of Environmental Protection attempts to waive regulations based on 40 years of legislation.

Department of Education attempts to rewrite charter school regulations based on the Charter School Program Act of 1995.

If you haven't already, join the almost 4,000 folks letting Acting Commissioner Cerf, the Governor, the State Board of Education and the legislature know that we will not sit silently by while these changes are pushed through.


In these proposed regulatory changes are a couple of doozies that will pave the way for virtual charter schools, which clearly were never envisioned by the legislature in 1995.  

Nonetheless, the Acting Commissioner will decide on July 15th whether to grant final approval to no less than FIVE virtual charter schools that are already recruiting students and are just waiting to open their, um... doors (?) in September.  

Assemblyman Diegnan got a virtual charter moratorium bill out of the Assembly Education Committee last week, but if it doesn't get any further the Department of Education will open virtual charter schools with no regulations or legislation to monitor their operations.  That job will be left to discredited for-profit online content providers and an unaccountable Department of Education.  


Just another example of the Christie Administration and Acting Commissioner doing as they please, to hell with the people of New Jersey and their representatives.  

The Christie Administration's Weapon of Choice?  


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